There are minor errors, there are mistakes, there are egregious blunders, there are schoolboy howlers, and then there are absolute whoppers. I’ll let my readers decide how to classify this one from a Mr. Frank Curcio, who is, as we shall see, an educated man.
The creationists are at it again, trying to get their religious dogma taught in public schools as science.
Responding to an earlier letter to NJ.com by a Mr. Michael Wolfe, who wrote that he found it “painful to witness the lengths to which many atheists go in their attempts to deny intelligent design in both creation and perpetuation,” Frank Curcio countered: “I’m a lifelong theist and I do not believe in creationism or intelligent design.” Fair enough. Mr. Curcio later added:
I can assure readers that not every theist wants his or her particular religious beliefs forced on the students in our public schools. A lifelong theist, I have been a scientist and historian since 1959 and from my experience can state that not every religious person is a creationist; not every scientist is an atheist.
I shall let Mr. Curcio’s careless equation of Intelligent Design with creationism pass without comment. Evidently Mr. Curcio is an educated man: a scientist and an historian. I was therefore hoping that his rebuttal of Mr. Wolfe’s views would be a well-argued one, making some substantive points drawn from one or both of his fields of expertise. Instead, Mr. Curcio’s letter betrays a jaw-dropping, bone-headed ignorance of history. I will invite my readers to see how many mistakes they can count:
I found it ironic that Mr. Wolfe referenced the Dred Scott decision to show that the Supreme Court could make wrong decisions. The Dred Scott decision was wrong, as was all slavery.
What is ironic is that the decision and slavery itself were based on the ideas of creationism. Creationism held that Africans (and Native Americans) were not created in God’s likeness and image, that dark-skinned people were created as lesser beings that lacked souls and were created (designed) by the creator (designer) to be slaves.
This creationist idea lasted well into the 20th century under the names of Jim Crow in the American South and Apartheid in South Africa. Creationism fostered and excused the slaughter of Native Americans, the enslavement of African people, and factored in the Dred Scott decision.
Obviously, like the Supreme Court, the creationism/intelligent designer dogma makes wrong decisions as well.
There’s just one small problem for Mr. Curcio: nowhere in the Bible can one find a trace of the absurd notion that “Africans (and Native Americans) were not created in God’s likeness and image.”
Readers can access the Dred Scott decision here. Not once does it refer to the Bible or creationism. Rather, it justifies its decision by appealing to “the state of public opinion … which prevailed in the civilized and enlightened portions of the world at the time of the Declaration of Independence, and when the Constitution of the United States was framed and adopted” as well as the social attitudes and practices of “more than a century before” the Declaration. That would take us back to the seventeenth century or so – about sixteen centuries after the last words of the Bible were composed.
But what I find most ironic is that when Dred Scott first sued for his freedom in 1846, he was acting on the advice of abolitionists, who were of course devout creationists.
I would have expected a more intelligent argument from a trained scientist and an historian than the farrago of nonsense contained in Frank Curcio’s letter. Mr. Curcio, you disappoint me.